Battlestate Games, the creators of Escape From Tarkov, has taken a firm stance against data mining. The studio announced today that it will begin blocking any accounts belonging to data miners and anyone who distributes the information they obtain.
“Datamining is defined as extracting information from massive datasets,” according to Battlestate. “In other words, it is the illegal infiltration of in-game code and databases in order to extract information that has been intentionally hidden from users.”
It should be stated right away that datamining in general is not unlawful. How you sift through data could be a concern, and what you do with the results—for example if you use it to reverse-engineer some cheats and then sell them online—could find you in hot water. However, while developers may not appreciate it when enterprising gamers tiptoe through their tulips and divulge their secrets to the public, it is not unlawful.
It’s also worth noting that the issue here doesn’t appear to be the possibility of cheating, but rather that dataminers are releasing information that Battlestate would prefer to keep concealed, such as specific boss spawn possibilities and new missions and rewards that haven’t been publicly disclosed. According to the company, revealing this type of information decreases the “wow effect” and makes the game “much more predictable,” and it’s also unfair to devs when future plans are ruined by dataminers the instant an update goes live.
Instead, Battlestate advised Escape From Tarkov players to only use official sources to get psyched for new additions and changes, as well as to gather particular information about the game. It also pledged to be more forthcoming about its future goals, “with the amount of information we believe will be enough for players to stay up to date.”
In order to persuade people to go this route, Battlestate cautioned that from now on, it will be difficult to find anyone even marginally involved in datamining. “All in-game accounts involved in datamining and/or sharing data originating from datamining will be banned, and platforms involved will receive warnings and further actions taken,” the studio stated.
That’s harsh, and it’s unsurprising that it’s caused a backlash against the studio. “How can BSG fail to recognize that dataminers are the primary reason their game hasn’t died years ago?” “It wouldn’t be playable without the wiki or ammo charts,” Schwertkeks wrote on Reddit.
“Imagine planning a massive party for everyone and then getting mad when someone hypes it up,” redditor AftT3Rmath said. “I’d get it if it was a surprise party or something, but instead of telling said hype man, ‘Yo, don’t tell anyone about the upcoming Red Wedding,’ they just shoot said hype man.”
One of the more measured reactions came from a dataminer in the core of the controversy, identified on Twitter as LogicalSolutions. They wondered why it was appropriate to disclose that data—at least part of it was probably datamined—on the wiki but not through their personal Twitter account while linking to their Tarkov Wikia page, which has hundreds of unique data entries.
LogicalSolutions has also recently had a social media feud with Battlestate studio president Nikita Buyanov, which may have contributed to the studio’s unexpected action:
Because Battlestate Games is a Russian studio, some of the terminology in the release could be the product of a less-than-perfect English translation. However, there appears to be no misunderstanding in the essence of the statement: if you extract or disclose data that has not been officially released, you risk being banned from the game. That’s excessive, especially since the studio believes the punishment might be applied to someone who, for example, retweets some interesting piece of information without first verifying whether it comes from an official source.
I’ve contacted Battlestate for additional information on the new Escape From Tarkov rules and will update if I hear back.